Social Networking 101

From dating to blogging to discussions of literature, the Internet offers a whole new way to express yourself and to meet new people. Use our guide to answer your questions, learn to connect, and be part of the fun.
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What's a Blog?

A blog (shortened from "Weblog") is a personal Web page that the creator regularly updates. It's similar to a diary or journal, except bloggers choose to post their feelings, thoughts, and observations for the world to see rather than to scribble them on a page. Blogs are usually updated daily or weekly and most offer readers an opportunity to post a comment. No editor, publisher, or other third party filters the information. Freedom of speech prevails, but the quality of writing and subject matter are a decidedly mixed bag. Blogs promote projects, share experiences, voice opinions, and chronicle journeys; most contain photos or other graphics and links to other Web sites. A woman who's battling breast cancer may create a blog so she can update friends about her health without fielding phone calls all day long. A stay-at-home mom may blog to share her day-to-day thoughts on raising kids. The possibilities are endless -- and to date there are more than 70 million blogs on the Internet.

To get a sense of what blogs are about, visit, type in any topic, and take a tour of the scores of blogs that turn up. Some of the most popular are also listed at

To start your own blog, go to and search "free blog." You'll get a list of dozens of free blog sites. Better yet, go to Any blog site should walk you step by step through the process of creating one. Don't be discouraged if you have few visitors at first; it takes time to establish an audience. Post on other blogs to introduce yourself and invite visitors to yours.

Blogs We Love

Check out these blogs -- they're fun and informative.
Fashion and style tips for women with real bodies -- and real budgets.
Daily inspiration for the interior designer in you, whether you're plotting your dream kitchen or painting a wall.
A whole blog devoted to cupcakes. Need we say more?
Random, interesting information that will give you more than enough conversation starters for your next dinner party.
Healthy inspiration on everything from diets to half-marathon training from the entertaining and informative bloggers at FITNESS magazine.
For political junkies who live outside the Beltway but want to feel like insiders.

Sound off on -- Whether the topic is politics, diets, or marriage (to name just a few), you can talk about it on our message boards.

Continued on page 2:  Can I Get a Date?


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